Disputes focused on competition law are an increasing feature of the commercial world. We have long experience of competition disputes, whether in making or defending claims for damages, dealing with competition law defences to intellectual property infringement claims or handling appeals from regulatory decisions.

With both competition law and litigation expertise in the same core team, we are ideally placed to act on competition disputes before both courts and arbitral panels.

Our competition litigation team is truly unusual, being made up of lawyers who have both an in-depth knowledge of competition law across the board and extensive experience of litigation, as well as other types of dispute resolution. That combination sets us apart. It enables us to take a truly integrated approach to cases – strategic and substantive considerations are considered together from the outset.

Our competition team cut its litigation teeth through a succession of ground-breaking cases over the past 25 years where competition law issues have arisen in the context of technology or the enforcement of IP rights.

For more information on the specialist disputes that we continue to handle, see SEP/FRAND disputes. 

With the rise in private enforcement of competition law including in arbitration, the team’s long-established expertise means that it is ideally placed to assist clients in such disputes.

Competition damages claims don’t always fit squarely within the confines of a regulatory decision, and we have found ourselves acting on an increasing number of complex ‘hybrid’ claims, often in parallel to appeals from regulatory decisions. Rather than kick a case into the long grass whilst a final regulatory decision is pending, we’ll look for ways to disentangle the various parts and ensure that proceedings are still able to progress. In doing so, we act both for those looking to recover damages and for those defending such claims.

The UK courts are increasingly tackling competition damages claims in manageable ‘chunks’, meaning a number of interim applications will inevitably pave the route to trial. These include jurisdictional disputes, determinations of relevant law, limitation arguments, and the strike-out of key parts of pleadings. We advise on all aspects, from pre-action issues through to settlement or a final hearing – as well as appeals and references to the CJEU, where available. We work with you to navigate the range of strategic options and find the strongest possible position – either as a route to settlement, or to take a case to trial.

Competition disputes are rarely limited to one jurisdiction. We are used to clients taking a multi-jurisdictional approach, and we work collaboratively with the best independent advisors from around the globe. With extensive experience in the life sciences and technology sectors in particular, we know and work with the right economists, accountants and industry experts to assist in clients litigating competition claims in these areas and beyond.

Increasingly, competition claims are also being resolved through arbitration. In sectors such as life sciences and technology, the confidentiality of arbitration as a route to resolving disputes is a major attraction - and that also applies to disputes about anti-competitive conduct or provisions in licences or other commercial agreements. We have considerable experience of alternative dispute resolution, with particular experience of arbitration of competition issues within life sciences disputes.

Key contact

Pat Treacy

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Successfully represented Google in Streetmap v Google, a standalone damages claim brought by an online mapping company alleging that Google’s use of its maps ‘OneBox’ constituted an abuse of dominance.

Resisted a claim for a mandatory interim injunction based on an alleged abuse of dominance for a client in the life sciences sector – our rapid reaction and strategic planning prevented a costly and distracting application from succeeding.

Advising on private damages claims following public enforcement infringement decisions – including work with experts to value such claims.

Various trips to the Appellate Courts on issues including the scope of Article 102 and its application to licensing; obligations under Article 101 not to use agreements to evade competition law obligations; and on jurisdictional aspects of FRAND disputes.

Advising on several confidential arbitrations of licence agreements in the life sciences sector and on how arbitration could provide a forum for FRAND disputes.

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What others say

“They are incredibly committed, resourceful and a delight to work with. There are no last-minute dramas, which keeps both clients and legal teams happy.”

Chambers and Partners 2020

“Their advice is practical and easy to understand; they make sense when they talk and they get where I’m coming from”.

Chambers and Partners 2020

“Notable strength at the intersection between competition law and IP, advising on key cases that test the definition of FRAND terms for the licensing of SEPs in the technology sector.”

Chambers and Partners 2020

“Unlike some of the boutique IP firms, Bristows benefits from being a full-service firm, drawing on experience, when required, from non-IP departments including the commercial and competition groups.”

Legal 500 2020

Bristows is one of the most experienced TMT firms in the UK, having been involved in almost every major telecoms case in recent years; it brings experience coupled with ability, enthusiasm and a service-oriented approach to every case, offering a first-rate service at real-world costings.

Legal 500 2020

“Bristows’ team is excellent in all areas of competition law, but it barely has a rival in issues at the interface between competition and intellectual property”.

Legal 500 2020

“Bristows is a go-to firm for competition law in the UK, especially when it comes to matters regarding patent litigation such as fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (Frand) issues”.

Legal 500 2020

“The team is helpful and responsive, and stands out for its pragmatic approach to legal advice”

Legal 500 2020

“Bristows has an in depth knowledge of the TMT sector”

Legal 500 2020

“A great, very dedicated team which offers straightforward, intelligent solutions”

Legal 500 2020

“‘quick and efficient’ team is recognised by clients and peers alike as a market leader in advising on the junction between competition law and intellectual property law.”

Legal 500 2020

“The team really cares about doing a good job and always go the extra mile. Although a partner-led service, you also get to know the associates who are doing the work.”

Legal 500 2020

“The ‘excellent’ and ‘client-focused’ Bristows LLP has a strong reputation in patent litigation, but also works on matters involving transactions, regulations and competition.”

Legal 500 2019

“Boutique IP firm Bristows LLP stands out for its ‘exceptional strength’ at the overlap between IP and competition law, for which the ‘seriously clever’ team is noted for its ‘creative’ approach to competition damages cases.”

Legal 500 2019

“Bristows LLP is ‘excellent in all fields in competition law’ and is particularly well regarded for its expertise in the IP and TMT sectors, where it provides an ‘inventive’ and ‘highly tailored’ approach to clients”.

Legal 500 2019

Recent rankings and awards

Competition Litigation - Tier 3
Legal 500 2020

EU and Competition - Tier 4
Legal 500 2020

Competition Law - Band 5
Chambers and Partners UK 2020

UK Cross-Border Telecoms Patent
Team of the Year, MIP Awards 2020

Competition Law - Band 5
Chambers Europe 2019

Competition Team of the Year
The Lawyer Awards 2017